Rafael Hui 'too busy' to pay HK$74,000 in interest
Ex-chief secretary told SHKP lender his attention was on National Day
Former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan turned down a lender's demand to pay HK$74,000 in overdue interest in 2009, citing his preoccupation with National Day celebrations in Beijing, the High Court heard yesterday.
The interest was generated from a HK$3 million loan issued to Hui in 2004, for which the principal, the court heard last week, was "never repaid" despite being granted six extensions up to 2010.
The city's highest-profile corruption trial, involving Hui and SHKP's two co-chairmen, heard that in September 2009 Hui fended off queries about the sums owing from Alex Au Mo-cheung, then chief executive of Sun Hung Kai Properties subsidiary Honour Finance. By that time, the loan had expired four years earlier.
Hui allegedly received tens of millions of dollars from SHKP co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen to be their "eyes and ears" in government.
Hui is also accused of failing, as chief secretary, to declare the HK$3 million loan to the government, and failing to declare two other loans to the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority when he was its managing director from 2000 to 2003. The loans were "very rare" for the SHKP subsidiary, which issued mainly mortgages.
A few months after Hui quit all government posts in January 2009, Honour Finance issued a demand note for the HK$3 million. In September, it wrote again to pursue interest amounting to HK$74,000, the repayment deadline having expired in June.
A few days later, Au visited Hui's office. Hui told him "he was very busy preparing for the 60th National Day of the People's Republic of China" on October 1, lead prosecutor David Perry QC said. "Mr Hui promised to settle his interest [payments] upon his return from Beijing next month."
Au agreed with the assertions in court. Hui was a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at around that time, Perry said.
The repayment of the principal was deferred for another year, a decision Au said was based in part on Hui's "high social status, reputation and credibility".
Under cross-examination from Hui's lawyer Edwin Choy Wai-bond, Au said the interest was settled in October 2009.
Choy asked: "Neither Mr Raymond Kwok nor anyone in the Kwok family requested you to grant favourable conditions to Mr Rafael Hui." Au agreed: "There were absolutely no favourable conditions offered."
Hui, 66, faces eight charges related to misconduct in public office and bribery. Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one with Hui of furnishing false information. Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 67, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges. All plead not guilty; the trial continues.